Doherty: No 'grubby little deal'
By Carolyn Farrar
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Fin TD, said his party would not go along with "any grubby little deal" that would enable the government to fast track the Finance Bill through to approval this week.
Deputy Doherty, finance spokesperson for Sinn Fin, was to meet yesterday afternoon with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, TD, and finance spokespersons for Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens, in the minister's attempt to reach agreement on the progress of the Finance Bill. Fine Gael and Labour have said the bill should be adopted by the end of the week, to enable the general election to be moved up to next month rather than the March 11 date Taoiseach Brian Cowen announced.
"Our intention is to put the maximum pressure on Fine Gael and Labour so they would pursue a motion of no confidence on Wednesday," Deputy Doherty said. If the government collapsed, all the parties could go to the country with their own budgetary measures, he said. Then, if the government that emerged from the upcoming general election were to introduce its own Finance Bill, they would be doing it with a mandate, he said.
"I think it's absolutely scandalous what's happening here," Deputy Doherty said. He said the opposition parties should have "the government on the ropes" but are instead "offering to allow them to stay on and give legal effect to the harshest budget in the history of the state."
Instead, he said, Sinn Fin has argued that "this government has no mandate to introduce the measures that it has done." But Labour and Fine Gael "are allowing them to push it through. It's absolutely incredible and has exposed Labour and Fine Gael for what they are."
"If you disagree with the bill, if disagree with the budget and you have an opportunity to finish the likes of this government, then you would do so," Deputy Doherty said.
The Gaoth Dobhair-based deputy also said it was "nonsense" to believe that Ireland would be penalised by the European Union for letting an election take its course.
"The idea that the EU commission would punish Ireland because the government collapsed and we had to have an election is laughable," he said. "As long as the parameters of what is set down in the IMF/EU deal are met, then they will not have an issue with what is being proposed."
The Donegal South-West deputy also repeated Sinn Fin's contention that Ireland does not need the finance package. "The reason we need the package at the minute is that 35 billion euro is going to the banks," he said. "We argue that we should not be putting any more money into banks and we have enough in our own resources to address the structural deficit."
Deputy Doherty said Ireland has a deficit of about 18 billion euro and available cash reserves of about 30 billion euro. "If we don't put any more money into the banks -- and Sinn Fin is unique in that -- then we don't need the bailout," he said. The party also argued that separating banking debt from national debt would restore confidence in the international bond market.